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Drought Could Impact Business Growth, State Fair

Posted February 13, 2008

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— As the drought slowly tightens its grip on North Carolina, state officials worry about its impact on the economy.

The slow pace of the disaster makes it difficult to gauge the overall economic impact, state Commerce Secretary Jim Fain said.

"At this point, we have not seen any impact in terms of our recruiting activities, but the fact is (that) the drought's a serious matter," Fain said.

Businesses in the tourism industry are preparing for drought-related losses, officials said.

"From the restaurant community, if they have to start serving on paper plates, then there is a service issue there," said Dennis Edwards, president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Requiring restaurants to use disposable plates has been discussed as a way cut down on dish-washing.

On Friday, Raleigh will implement Stage 2 water-use rules. Among other things, the rules will ban outdoor watering in the city and six Wake County towns that are part of the municipal water system.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said the regulations will change the way the State Fairgrounds operates for animal shows and the annual State Fair in October.

"We're going to be under some mandatory restrictions here at the fairgrounds," Troxler said. "The horse shows may be adversely affected, and if we were to have shortages going into the State Fair, that would affect us."

Drinking water could not be used to hose down animal areas at the fair, for example.

The Triangle received a little over an inch of rain late Tuesday and Wednesday, but Falls Lake, Raleigh's primary reservoir, remains about 8½ feet below normal.

"Clearly, we're not getting the rain that we'd like to have. We're not refilling our basins, and that's an issue," said Gov. Mike Easley, who added that conservation efforts need to be stepped up and expanded.

"I am getting increasingly concerned about conservation, and we're not doing enough of it," he said.

The mayors of all the seven municipalities on Raleigh's water system have signed a letter that will be sent to area water customers on Friday. The letter details Stage 2 regulations and urges people to install low-flow devices on their faucets, showers and toilets and suggests they purchase a rain barrel to collect water for outdoor uses.

Easley has asked municipal water systems to interconnect their systems. Raleigh officials have started to talk with Cary about buying water from Jordan Lake, a source that Durham also uses.

"When you look at how many days are left in some of these reservoirs, it's scary," Troxler said.

14 Comments

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  • john60 Feb 14, 2008

    Well, Lakes Gaston/Kerr have a much larger watershed than the one for Falls Lake. Virginia's also had more rainfall than NC has had; I don't think they are in nearly as severe a drought as we are. Jordan is both larger and has a larger watershed too.

    We're going to see a lot more of these kinds of articles, as the impact of not having any water starts hitting every aspect of living in Raleigh. Maybe then the elected leadership will realize how incompetently they've handled this disaster.

  • SheriffTruman Feb 14, 2008

    So, it rained North of Falls Lake to keep Kerr and Gaton at decent levels and it rained south of Fals to keep Jordan full, man what bad luck. OR maybe Raleigh also over-committed its supply and did not raise taxes to pay for more due to everyone constantly whining about it.

  • inquistitor Feb 14, 2008

    Don't you guys know this is the latest economic stimulus package? Because we have to cut back on our water usage we must therefore spend money on low flow shower heads/toilets and rain barrels (which the city is happily providing for $70.00 ea). By creating the situation they are promoting growth for businesses in Raleigh. You might argue that the landscaping businesses are suffering, and they are, but if they adapt to landscaping for a more arid climate their business would pick up. Oh yeah, the HOAs won't have much to stand on if they try to fine you for not having a lawn.

  • flashlight Feb 14, 2008

    What I don't hear many city leaders telling us is why if the drought is so bad all over then why are Lake Jordan, Kerr Lake, "Gaston Lake and most all of the area ponds in my area FULL??? They keep telling us to conserve, well it will not be a problem in a few months when the city of Raleigh will be known for the BO city. Seems like you should build the water supply first then build the homes, maybe thats just me?"

    Falls Lake is further up the watershed than those with more full pools. Other nearby lakes generally have more surface area draining into them.

  • whatelseisnew Feb 14, 2008

    Raleigh overbuilt and over-committed its water resources. You are paying for the greed of Mayor Meeker and the useless city council. Even now the city leaders refuse to put a moratorium on issuing new building permits. They want the money and they are basically just hoping that enough rain will come along to keep the water flowing.

  • chrbellm9 Feb 14, 2008

    What I don't hear many city leaders telling us is why if the drought is so bad all over then why are Lake Jordan, Kerr Lake, Gaston Lake and most all of the area ponds in my area FULL??? They keep telling us to conserve, well it will not be a problem in a few months when the city of Raleigh will be known for the BO city. Seems like you should build the water supply first then build the homes, maybe thats just me?

  • garnertoy Feb 14, 2008

    this didnt just happen we should have been looking at the water supply along time ago

  • CestLaVie Feb 14, 2008

    TOO BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish somebody would get a brain in all of this!!

  • shine Feb 14, 2008

    This is ridiculous..... Are we worried about the State Fair or are we worried about people having water.

    The reason Raleigh did not enforce water restrictions last fall was because of the State Fair and they were afraid they were not going to make the "achievement" numbers of people - incidently are for their own statistics and no one else in the US and most of NC cares anyway....

    So now....... Let us all recognize this as an on going problem.

    The problem is ... it has been on going for 6 or 8 months.. maybe a year.

  • rumbleehockey03 Feb 14, 2008

    maybe if all the rich people in raleigh would've quit worrying about their precious grass a year ago we wouldnt be in this situation. I dont think raleigh should be allowed to use anyone else's water supply...they got theirselves into this mess.....they should let people from other towns hawk water to rich people in raleigh for hundreds of dollars a gallon once they run out

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